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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Fallacy of "Tax Protester Fallacies"

I see a lot of websites debunking the arguments for "the income tax is illegal!" The Supreme Court has ruled that all legal arguments against the income tax are invalid. Due to stare decisis, once the Supreme Court makes such a decision it cannot be questioned. (Stare decisis says that once the Supreme Court makes a ruling, it cannot normally be questioned or reversed. The Supreme Court usually makes rulings that increase State power, due to the obvious conflict of interest. Once the Supreme Court makes a ruling that erodes individual freedom, then that ruling has full force of law and is permanently irreversible. In theory, refusing to review past decisions saves time. In practice, stare decisis means that bad precedents cannot be questioned and are almost impossible to overturn. Over time, stare decisis leads to decay of the legal system, because bad practices become institutionalized and legitimized.)

For example, the Supreme Court ruled that the 16th amendment was properly declared ratified, and no court may now consider otherwise. Legally, that issue is considered settled and is not subject to further debate, even if the Supreme Court made a mistake. Most of these "tax resister debunking" websites list a whole bunch of Supreme Court decisions that say the income tax is proper. They also cite a whole bunch of Supreme Court decisions that say that defendants are barred from making "jury nullification" arguments or an appeal to natural law or common law. I saw one tax resister debunker website explaining how wise the Supreme Court was for making sure that jury nullification is never mentioned in courtrooms. If you circulate jury nullification pamphlets outside a courthouse, that is also considered to be a crime.

The President and Congress accept a corrupt taxation system, because that maximizes their own personal power and influence. Similarly, the Supreme Court was corrupted. The same insiders that pick the President and Congress pick Supreme Court justices. Unless you're a thoroughly brainwashed pro-State troll, you won't be chosen as a Federal judge.

If you make an argument saying "the income tax is illegal" in court, you will be found in contempt of court. You're subject to an automatic statutory fine if you make such an argument in court, because they're considered frivolous. If you're represented in court by a lawyer, he can't make such an argument, because he'd lose his law license. If you're representing yourself, I don't see how the judge or prosecutor can prevent you from explaining your viewpoint to the jury. Even if the judge arrests you for contempt, you're going to jail anyway if you're convicted. You shouldn't let a biased judge prevent you from speaking at your own trial. A judge can't hold you indefinitely for contempt of court; after awhile, it seems silly. Is the judge going to bar you from speaking at your own trial? If the judge or prosecutor interrupt you, that makes the trial seem biased against you, and creates sympathy with the jury.

I'm not sure if such statutory fines apply only to people suing the IRS for return of taxes withheld, or also to people defending themselves in a tax evasion trial. For the former, you're taking an aggressive move against the IRS. For the latter, you're merely defending yourself from aggression. If I earn income that is automatically reported to the IRS, I accept the futility of that struggle and pay the tax. The key is to generate wealth that is not automatically reported to the bad guys for taxation and confiscation.

I researched this a bit. The tax law is really incredibly complicated. If something is really incredibly complicated, that's a sure sign that some funny business is occurring. Lawyers made the law complicated on purpose, so the average person needs to hire a lawyer to defend themselves in court. The tax law is incredibly complicated, so that the inherent contradictions are obfuscated.

All the arguments in favor of the legality of the income tax boil down to one point. The argument in favor of the income tax is "It's legal because I said so. I control more guns than you, so if you don't like it that's too bad."

Arguing the legality of the income tax is missing the key point. If you make a legal argument, you're fighting the bad guys on their turf. Who wrote the laws and tax code? It was written by lawyers and bureaucrats. Of course they're going to make it incomprehensible and in their eyes airtight. When the judge tells the jury "You must accept the law as I state it", then the jury has no choice, because the law really is incomprehensible. The jury must rely on the judge's summary, because they cannot read the law themselves.

Lawyers and judges are like a crazy religious cult. It's like that story of Richard Feynman trying to point out to rabbis the inherent contradictions of their faith. For example, it's bad for a Jewish person to press elevator buttons on the sabbath, but it's acceptable to hire a non-Jew to push buttons for you. The rabbis have thought of every possible loophole and come up with a convincing excuse. The excuse doesn't have to convince a non-Jew; the excuse merely needs to convince a rabbi or Jew.

Similarly, lawyers and judges have thought of every possible loophole for why the income tax is legal. Just like a rabbi who can't see the inconsistencies of Judaism, lawyers and judges can't see the inconsistencies of their religious cult. Such brainwashing tricks are sufficient if they convince lawyers and judges. It's irrelevant if the average person is fooled. Besides, the average person won't question a lawyer, judge, bureaucrat, politician, or journalist who speaks in an authoritative-sounding voice using big fancy words. (My parents once complained that I didn't get my money's worth for my education, because I don't use big words when I talk. It isn't hard to obfuscate things. Explaining things clearly is the real challenge.)

Trying to convince a judge that the income tax is illegal is like trying to convince a rabbi that it's acceptable to eat pork if you cook it properly. You can't do it, because you can't overcome their brainwashing. That isn't a perfect analogy. A rabbi is free to not eat pork if he chooses, as long as he doesn't prevent me from eating pork. A judge will use violence to force me to pay income taxes, even if I don't agree with his crazy religious cult.

Based on what I read, the legality or illegality of the income tax is not proven either way. If you read laws and the Constitution, there are obvious contradictions. The contradictions are addressed in the same manner that allows a rabbi to hire someone else to push elevator buttons for him on Saturday. The contradictions aren't really addressed, but plausible-sounding explanations are given. If you're an expert at pretending to think, then those arguments are convincing.

The people who control the most guns say that the income tax is legal, and that's the only convincing argument. Nothing is more persuasive than the barrel of a gun.

The tax protesters and tax protester debunkers are missing the key point. The income tax is immoral. The actual legality of the income tax is irrelevant. If a law is stupid, then people have the right and obligation to ignore it. Civil disobedience is the only way that stupid laws are eliminated. In the case of the income tax, large-scale civil disobedience would lead to the complete collapse of the current economic and political system. If agorists do a good job, then this collapse will be mostly nonviolent. At this point, the collapse is a historic inevitability. The only question is how violent or nonviolent the collapse will be.

How much risk is an agorist really taking? I don't know. If I pursue blatant-in-public agorism, then I'm a tempting target. If I'm a good public speaker, then maybe I could convince a jury to acquit me, even if the judge is biased against me. If I'm the victim in a trial and get acquitted, then that could be good publicity. The bad guys may not choose to make an example of me, if they think I'd be acquitted in a high-profile trial. Even going to jail might be good publicity, if it's only for a few years. Of course, there's plenty of ways to kill someone and make it look like an accident.

An agorist would probably be accused with something like 100 counts of tax evasion, making it effectively a life sentence if convicted. Do juries understand that when they convict someone of multiple counts of a minor crime, they're effectively giving a huge sentence? Usually, sentencing information is withheld from juries. I've heard cases where jurors said "I would have acquitted if I knew the defendant would go to jail for so long." Prosecutors usually explain the maximum sentence before the trial, so that the defendant can be bullied into plea bargaining. I'd tell the jury what the maximum sentence is, even if the judge objects.

For example, "failure to report income" or "failure to withhold taxes" is a single crime with a penalty of a few years in jail. If you do it several years in a row, or if you have multiple trading partners, then you might be faced with multiple criminal charges for doing the exact same thing. This makes the effective penalty for tax evasion a lot bigger than what the law says. The person who wrote the law might have figured "2 years in jail for tax evasion is no big deal", but didn't realize that people would be getting convicted of 30-100 counts of tax evasion all at once. This also is an incentive to plea bargain, because 2 years in jail is preferable to a life sentence.

I don't know if anyone has ever successfully made the correct argument in court, which is "The income tax is immoral." The details of legality or Constitutionality are irrelevant. A judge would probably bar you from making a morality argument in court, because that is essentially a "jury nullification" argument. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor shouldn't just have the burden of proving the facts. The prosecutor should also have the burden of proving that the law is a good law. For individual murder and individual theft, almost everyone agrees on the morality of the law. For victimless crimes like possession of marijuana, prostitution, or tax evasion, the law is immoral.

If you're the victim in a tax resistance trial, your target audience is the jury. The judge and prosecutor will be biased against you, so it's pointless to appeal to them with logic. For this reason, I advocate a sui juris defense for agorists. This way, you may develop a personal connection with the jury, so you can get acquitted. If the jury just sees you sitting there and a lawyer doing the speaking for you, then the jury may not be personally sympathetic towards you. This only works if you're a good public speaker.

You need one vote out of 12 to secure a hung jury. However, then the bad guys get a mulligan and may have a new trial. You really need 12 out of 12 votes to acquit. Biased jury selection procedures make it very unlikely that 12 sensible people will make it onto the jury. Several State employees will normally be on the jury, and they will be biased in favor of the prosecution. State employees are dependent on taxes/theft to pay their own salary! Also remember that an agorist can be prosecuted in multiple jurisdictions. You may be prosecuted for Federal tax evasion and then state tax evasion, for the exact same activity.

The defendant in a criminal case should be allowed to argue that the law being enforced is immoral. A corrupt judge and legal system rule otherwise. For this reason, an agorist in a tax resistance criminal trial should represent themselves. If you use a lawyer, then the lawyer can't present a controversial defense, lest he lose his law license. A lawyer won't risk his career to defend you properly.

There's another important point to remember regarding criminal penalties for tax evasion. If the goal is to collect unpaid taxes, then a civil lawsuit can be filed. It's pointless to send an otherwise productive person to jail. The purpose of criminal charges for tax evasion is punishment and terrorism.

If I were the victim in a tax resistance trial, I would make certain to point out to the jury that a civil trial can be pursued to collect unpaid taxes. I would argue "Do I really deserve to go to jail for working?" I would point out how working off-the-books helps me keep my costs down and provide lower prices to my customers. All my customers were voluntarily trading with me, so how can you argue that I injured anyone? Criminal penalties are excessive, unnecessary, and overly punitive.

The correct argument against the income tax is that the income tax is immoral.

The income tax is immoral because it literally prevents people from working. If you want to discourage people from smoking, you put a tax on cigarettes. If you want to discourage people from drinking, you put a tax on alcohol. If you want to discourage people from driving, you put a tax on gasoline. Similarly, a tax on labor discourages people from working. Useful work is accomplished in spite of huge restrictions, because people need to work to survive.

Federal Reserve Points must be presented to the State in exchange for permission to work. The Federal Reserve can cause recessions by raising interest rates and crashing the money supply. As less money is circulating, people no longer have sufficient permission to work, and people lose their jobs. The Federal Reserve can cause booms by cutting interest rates. With more money circulating, there are more work permission receipts, and therefore more jobs. The people who print and spend the new money may cheaply hire the workers displaced in the last recession.

The income tax prevents people from boycotting the Federal Reserve and using sound money instead. If you use gold or silver as money, and do it completely legally, then you pay more in taxes than if you use Federal Reserve Points legally. Operating a gold or silver warehouse receipt bank is illegal, or impractical if you follow all the taxes and regulations.

The Federal Reserve and income tax cause huge distortions of the market. The proceeds of taxation/theft are used for corporate welfare and enforcing regulations that crush small businesses. The State can't "manage the economy". That's literally communism! The State is entirely responsible for declining real wages and a declining standard of living. A freedom activist can't accomplish good by working harder legally. For every $1 I earn, the State also gets $1 or more! If I legally work harder, that just increases the resources available to the bad guys! (There's the Federal income tax rate of 25%, plus 15% for Social Security and Medicare, plus local taxes (state income tax, sales tax, property taxes), plus the inflation tax.)

Paying taxes is immoral, because the proceeds of taxation are used to hurt other people. If you voluntarily pay taxes, then you're as much a war criminal as the President or soldier who participates in an illegitimate war. If you voluntarily pay taxes, then you're paying for terrorism; enforcement of laws regarding "victimless crimes" are a form of terrorism. If you voluntarily pay taxes, then you're paying for corporate welfare and the enforcement of regulations that crush small businesses. If you voluntarily pay taxes, you're supporting the Federal Reserve and a corrupt monetary system.

Almost all State actions are harmful. Even superficially beneficial welfare programs are bad, because the terms of welfare typically enslave the recipients. For example, welfare recipients lose their benefit if they find a job; this means that welfare recipients have a huge marginal tax rate, maybe more than 100%. More is typically spent on salaries for welfare bureaucrats than on benefits for people. Once you realize that all State actions are wasteful or destructive, then you can't morally support any form of government at all.

Suppose there were a free market with no welfare programs. In that case, a single mother might be able to find a decent job for 20-30 hours per week and spend the rest of her time with her children. In the present, it's more attractive to go on welfare than accept a minimum wage job. Further, welfare laws and child support laws encourage irresponsible behavior. If a woman knows that the State will take care of her child or force someone else to pay, then there is no incentive for her to select a responsible partner.

The IRS says that all work is subject to taxation. The only way that such a law could be fairly enforced is if the State spies on what everyone is doing all the time. Suppose you go into a store and purchase a pizza with cash. How do you know the pizza store owner is reporting all his sales? Food service has thin profit margins. If the store owner underreports sales by 5%-10%, then most of his profits will be tax-free, and it won't look suspicious. If a law can only be fairly enforced by spying on everyone all the time, then it's obviously a bad law.

The "tax protester" websites and "tax protester debunker" websites are almost all missing the key point. The income tax is immoral. The legal or Constitutional argument is irrelevant. If you make a legal argument, you're fighting the bad guys on their turf.

Sometimes, I wonder if the "tax protester" websites are really sponsored by the bad guys. If you focus on legal technicalities, you're missing the true point. By focusing on the legal argument and not the moral argument, the "tax protester" websites distract people from the true issue.

It's pointless debating the bad guys or appealing to their sense of fairness or morality. It's time to stop supporting an illegitimate economic and political system. Agorism is the best resistance strategy that I've seen, although I haven't personally started implementing it yet.


Anonymous said...

It is just like baseball with its umpires. Years ago the umpire said: I call a strike a strike, and a ball a ball. Then later it became: I call 'em what they are!. Then some time passed and the umpire said: I calls 'em like I sees 'em. And now the umpire says: They aint a ball or a strike until I says what they are!

barry b said...

good points, you had me at 'it really boils down to I have more guns than you'... of course... doesn't everything really boil down to that? When will plunder stop? Only when plunder becomes more dangerous than actually working... sound familiar?

good post... enjoyed the read

fritz said...

I like this post too. Most of all I truly believe it is immoral to let someone steal from you. And I believe that paying taxes allows a terrorist government to dominate and kill people.

Think of it this way.When I pay my taxes to the government, almost half of it goes to the military.And we know that the military buys bullets and bombs with the money they get.

They use these bullets and bombs to kill people I have never met. So actually by paying taxes I'm empowering someone else to commit murder.... To me this is immoral...

How many people have I helped my government kill,,( to many) Its wrong I say!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Your continued speculation about the legality of the tax code indicates you passed on my suggestion you educate yourself at the feet of Pete Hendrickson with his book "Cracking the Code". His work will empower you to opt out of the system while obeying the law. Good advice for all wanabe anti-tax bloggers: study the book (it's not an easy read) or admit your ignorance about income tax and keep quiet.

Mike Gogulski said...

Anonymous misses the point, yet again. The point is: fuck the law, and fuck the code. No mountain of words will make theft right, regardless.

Anonymous said...

Mike G.--
No, you miss my point thanks to your ignorance of Pete's scholarship. I can't simplify it enough for you, except to say that our forbears were not idiots to saddle us with the income tax. The law of which the code is but a reference taxes only income from government privilege. In 1943 tax withholding started as a patriotic duty, and a huge and persistent propaganda campaign has supported it ever since. I obey that original law and pay no tax, but since IRS agents are moles in the tax protest and avoidance movements, I prefer to stay Anonymous. Get the book and get educated at and get free.

Sure the tax is immoral. But you will not starve the Beast with your complaints. Keeping your money is the sweetest revenge.

If your IQ is stuck in double digits keep on filing with your CPA, but if you really want to poke a pin in the Beast join the people who are beating the IRS with refunds every day thanks to Pete Hendrixson.

Josh said...

I agree entirely.

Why play their game and tell them they have their own rules wrong?

They have guns, and unless you're willing to argue with guns, shut up. And don't play their game, it does take great courage to stand up to a gun, but those that do are BIG HEROES.

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